The land and forest fires that hit the ASEAN region in 1997-1998 have been particularly severe. The environmental, economic and social dimensions and impact of these fires, and the associated transboundary haze pollution, were profound. The total economic losses in terms of agriculture production, destruction of forest lands, health, transportation, tourism, and economic endeavours have been estimated at more than USD9 billion.
As a partnership for sharing experiences, information, responsibilities and benefits, and working towards common good, ASEAN is in a strong position to address the problem at the regional level. The Regional Haze Action Plan (RHAP) was endorsed by the ASEAN Environment Ministers in December 1997. The RHAP has three major components: prevention, mitigation and monitoring. There has been good progress in the implementation of the RHAP. This continues with the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution after its entry into force in November 2003. The Agreement was signed by Governments of the ten ASEAN Member States on 10 June 2002 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Agreement is the first regional arrangement in the world that binds a group of contiguous states to tackle transboundary haze pollution resulting from land and forest fires. It has also been considered as a global role model for the tackling of transboundary issues.
Considering the intractable nature and complexity of the issues related to land and forest fires, ASEAN is constantly challenged to respond effectively to the issue.
For more information, please visit our website dedicated for ASEAN cooperation on transboundary haze pollution: